The Battle For Number 2
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When the dust settles in the next month, and we know our conference champions, two teams will be granted the privilege to play in the 2009 BCS National Championship game in Miami. Determining which two teams will be making the trip is setting up to be a train-wreck. In an instant classic this past Saturday, Texas Tech knocked off number 1 Texas to remain unbeaten. With the win, the Red Raiders jumped number 3 Penn State to become number 2 behind Alabama in the latest AP poll.
Three teams remain unbeaten, but many feel that Florida, a one-loss team, may be the best team out there. The Gators slipped early on to Ole Miss, but have since been on a rampage. Their latest victim is arch-rival Georgia, whom they destroyed 49 to 10 yesterday. At 7-1 (5-1 in the SEC), Florida also has perhaps the best player in the game in quarterback and reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and the best running back/multi-purpose guy in Percy Harvin.
Similar to Florida are Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and USC. All three teams have one-loss, yet would gladly stand toe-to-toe with any of the teams still undefeated. So of these 8 teams, how do you pick just two? For starters, four of these teams are in the Big 12 (same division for crying out loud!). So with the strength of that league this season, I would like to see that conference's champion in the BCS NCG. I truly feel that whoever comes out as the Big-12 Champ is deserving of the BCS NCG this particular season. As for the battle for number 2, thats another story.
That leaves Alabama, Penn State Florida and USC to face the Champion of the Big-12 for the National Title. Thanks to our lack of a playoff, we will never know which of these four is truly the strongest. But, the team that I think is the most deserving, at this point, is Alabama (and no, not just because I watched them destroy my Tigers). The Tide have two things that championship teams have: a solid running game and a fierce defense. So far, they have used those to navigate their way through a tough SEC schedule undefeated.
But if I give Alabama this credit for having a top notch running game and great defense, then why shouldn't I give Penn State the same kind of credit? They, too, are undefeated. The only thing with Penn State is that I feel the Big-10 is way behind the SEC this season and Ohio State didn't do the league any favors with its performance in the last two BCS NCGs. But I know you cant bring past performances (especialy from another team) into the formula.
Alabama will have a hard time winning out. The Tide face LSU in Baton Rouge, and Auburn (a team they haven't beaten in six tries) at home, before a would-be SEC Title game (probably against Florida). If they come out of that gauntlet unbeaten, then they would be the clear choice for the number 2 spot. They would be unbeaten and out of the SEC.
So basically what we have is the Big-12 Champ versus Alabama if the Tide can run it out. But this is just my opinion. What if The Big-12 champ has one-loss (which it will unless TT runs the table)? In my heart, I know this league is better this year than the Pac-10 and the Big-10 and it's champion deserves a shot at the crystal football. But those are leagues, not teams, and thats what makes this all so crazy. USC is a very good football team, as is Penn State, and I don't think they should be left out because their respective conferences are down.
I hear a playoff is being secretly put together, starting with four teams. But for now, we do not have one, so It will be an interesting month to see who gets to play for it all. My prediction is that Texas Tech loses a game in their next three (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, potential Big-12 title game) and the whole system gets thrown out of whack. If Alabama loses, too, we could have as many as six extremely even one-loss teams declaring they have earned the right to be number 2, and face Penn State for the National Championship.
The battle for number 2 is on.
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